You might have heard about a new way of providing services called the 'gig economy'. We call it the 'on-demand' economy.
Put simply, it’s when we use technology to match people that need work done with people who want to do that work.
It has become a big part of how we live. Australians use apps or go online to have food delivered, get a ride somewhere, or book a neighbour to mow their lawns.
Some people say that the on-demand economy gives workers freedom and choice to decide how and when to work. Others suggest that it also improves services for consumers and helps businesses to reach more customers.
But there are also some concerns over whether people in the gig economy are being paid enough, whether the work is safe, or whether their are adequate protections for workers.
The Victorian Government has set up the Inquiry into the On-demand Workforce to consider all of these matters.
The Inquiry has called for submissions from a wide range of participants in the sector. It has encouraged interested parties to provide evidence, examples and case studies to support their submissions.
The Inquiry will publish these submissions soon, once they have been reviewed for legal and privacy reasons.
The Inquiry is also hosting discussions with businesses, unions and workers.
Later this year, the Inquiry will use this information to make a report to the Victorian Government about its findings.
Natalie James, chair of the Inquiry
The Inquiry into the On-demand Workforce is chaired by Natalie James.
Natalie James is also a partner at Deloitte, where she works with businesses to help them create fairer and more positive workplaces.
Natalie was Australia’s Fair Work Ombudsman for five years, from 2013-2018. As Ombudsman, she led public debate about whether businesses are obeying work laws in Australia.
Natalie also has experience working for the federal government. Before she became Ombudsman, she was Chief Counsel at the Department of Employment and Workplace Relations and oversaw the development of workplace laws such as the Fair Work Act.
In 2018, the Council of Small Business named Natalie as a Small Business Champion for her work helping businesses to understand and obey complex work laws.
Natalie James highlights themes from Inquiry at Youth Summit 2019
One theme of the submissions to the Inquiry into the On-demand Workforce so far has been the value of flexibility and the capacity for on-demand work to meet a diverse range of personal needs and lifestyles, said Inquiry chair Natalie James at the Victorian Youth Summit 2019 in April 2019.
She explained that some submissions have noted there are low barriers to entry for some parts of this sector, and suggested it can be an option for young people struggling to find paid work through traditional employment arrangements.
However, she said submissions have also highlighted the effects on individual workers – such as insecure work, or the lack of superannuation and leave.
The submissions will be published here soon.
Meanwhile, you can download the full transcript of Natalie James’s speech here:
https://engage.vic.gov.au/download_file/view/14557/2303 (Accessible Word document, 85.5 KB)
All of the submissions we have received are being reviewed before publication.
They will be available to view and download here soon.